"The conductor has his score, the director his script. The choreographer? Nothing but an intention, hopefully an inspiration and a room full of bodies."
That, according to Martín Céspedes, is the tabula rasa that is musical theater choreography. He should know, having spent the last 15 years in Cleveland engaging in that enterprise at nearly every professional theater in town after a career touring the nation in celebrity-studded productions of Broadway shows which include The King and I and Man of La Mancha. My first experience with Martín's choreography was in 2005 while on the stage in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific at the Tri-C Eastern Campus Performing Arts Center.
When he takes on a new project, Martín, of Westlake, finds the intention behind the dance-to-be by listening
to the musical’s cast album, which he does repeatedly in the isolation of his studio. “The potential for
dance arrangements,” he confides, “resides in the recording. I stand in front of the mirrors, set up my
phone camera, and I riff, notating the length of the dance break, the time signatures – slow, 3/4, 4/4 –
and envisioning style of music – waltz, rumba and so on.”
He then performs and storyboards possibilities as he visualizes himself in the specific situation the dialogue
has created for the music and taps the emotion that the music has created for the dance. The results of
this creative process were most certainly on display during the recent world premiere revisiting of Jane Eyre
by Cleveland Musical Theatre, where Martín's graceful choreography created dramatic, fluid tableaus
that captured – along with Gothic lighting design and period-perfect costuming – the tenor of Eyre’s
haunting childhood memories so vividly described in Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel.
Though inspired by and often paying homage to the choreography created for the original Broadway
productions he is re-staging, Martín is driven to follow his own muse and find his own voice. “While
Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse have created the footprint,” he says, “the actual steps need to be your
For the full article, go to: http://canvascle.com/martin-cespedes/
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